By Ralph Singh
Gobind Sadan USA
On Christmas eve, His Holiness Baba Virsa Singh, the internationally renowned spiritual leader and beloved founder and preceptor of Gobind Sadan, “God’s House without Walls,” left this world.
Babaji was an outspoken advocate and champion of inter-communal harmony, a tireless worker to alleviate poverty, and a healer and spiritual teacher throughout the world. He brought an end to the terrorist insurrection in the Indian state of Mizoram, and quietly helped quell tensions in other hot spots.
He was known for his prophetic statements about major world events, such as the breakup of the Soviet Union and the impact of the Iraq war on American life. Since his childhood, countless miracles have been documented, including giving sight to the blind, healing leprosy and other incurable illnesses, and allowing cripples to walk.
But Babaji, as he was known, felt the greatest miracle was changing the human mind toward good. His spiritual community has devotees in all the major countries of the world, and centers in India, Upstate New York and Russia.
Baba Virsa Singh first visited Central New York in the summer of 1986. Then-mayor Tom Young and Onondaga County Executive Nick Pirro issued a proclamation in his honor.
Jim Walsh, then Common Council president, invited Babaji to open the session with a prayer. Babaji offered his blessings and reminded councilors that “In all your decisions, remember those in need.”
During his time in Central New York, he addressed groups at area universities and colleges, and was hosted by civic groups. Babaji left a gift Gobind Sadan USA, in Oswego County, his first spiritual center outside India as a place of blessing and healing for all.
In the months following Sept. 11, 2001, turbaned Sikhs like visitors to the Central Square site were often confused with Osama bin Laden. When teens ignorant of his message of peace struck with arson, the Holy Scripture survived the fire as a symbol that goodness triumphs over evil. Babaji sent a powerful message of forgiveness. The Post-Standard lauded the response in an editorial, “No place for Hate.”
America today is deeply divided politically, culturally, even religiously. We need to rebuild our sense of community of one nation under God with the understanding that as Babaji has said, “God is no one’s personal domain.”
When then-Post-Standard columnist Vince Golphin interviewed Babaji, he wrote: “Peace is as elusive as a unicorn . . . but today I came face to face with peace. His name is Baba Virsa Singh.”
Great leaders leave their mark, but great souls instill their spirit in others so their work carries on. While we in the Gobind Sadan community mourn his loss, we celebrate his life by embracing all people, celebrating all faiths, helping those in need, and looking for opportunities to create peace.
Ralph Singh, from Elbridge, is founding president of Gobind Sadan, USA, president of Gobind Sadan Community Services, and director of publications and public relations for the Gobind Sadan Society for Interfaith Understanding in New Delhi, India.